Home town: Adelaide, SA (Currently living in Tokyo)
Marital status: In a relationship
Cooking style: Asian
Adam Liaw Top 24
He may be a young prodigy, having completed Year 11 at just 14-years-old, enrolled in university at age 16 and a lawyer at 21, but even Adam must have wondered if he’d bitten off more than he could chew during one adventurous dinner in Japan.
“The weirdest food I’ve ever eaten was shirako, which is basically the sperm sac of a fish,” says Adam, who has lived in Tokyo for the past six years where he is a media lawyer. “It was disgusting, but when you’re sitting in a bar where everyone at your table is eating it, I guess you just have to try it too.”
Unusual foods aside, browsing Japan’s markets is a veritable feast for Adam’s eyes and his taste buds.
“The food markets are great,” he says. “I see a weird ingredient and I’ll talk to the seller about it, go research it and eventually try to cook with it.”
When growing up in Adelaide, there seemed little doubt that Adam’s world would eventually centre around cooking.
“I first remember cooking when I was eight or nine and living with my mum and stepfather,” explains Adam. “With my stepbrothers and sisters, there were eight of us kids in the house and once a month, it would be the kids’ turn to make dinner.
“We moved around a bit when I was younger, like over to Malaysia, and there would always be some kind of food that I had loved – and wanted to cook – for the whole family.”
Adam’s mum and stepfather moved to New Zealand when he was 14-years-old, but he stayed in Adelaide where he lived at his grandma’s home. He lists her as a food inspiration, but it wasn’t until he was studying science and law at the University of Adelaide that it became a passion.
“I would just taste something while I was out and then try to make it at home,” says Adam. “I just had people over for dinner all the time.”
He moved to Japan six years ago, where his love affair with food has blossomed. And after forging a successful career as a lawyer, Adam has handed down his verdict on his culinary future: he wants to open his own Japanese Izakaya, which is like a pub with a casual restaurant.
“If you can turn your hobby into your job, why not?” says Adam, who didn’t watch last year’s series of MasterChef and was told to apply by his mates. “I’ve just left my job in Japan and I know that if something was to come from being on the show, I would move back to Australia.”